I’ve just finished Neal Stephenson’s latest. Mini-review after the break to avoid spoilers.
I don’t think that Anathem reaches the heights of Cryptonomicon, but what does? It’s not as complex as The Baroque Cycle, but that could be said of complete texts on quantum chromodynamics. But I found Anathem completely engrossing and fascinating, particularly in the way it fleshes out the mathic world that the characters live in. It slows a bit in the middle (when Erasmus is Feral) or occasionally during the long dialogues. But the climax of the story makes up for that.
The surprising thing about Anathem is that it is, at its core, a basic first contact story. Most of it would not be out of place in Footfall. But you get so immersed in the mathic world it describes, that the basic storyline blindsides you. I love it when a story surprises me and Anathem did.